Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A More Civil Time and Place

Are you tired of the tone of this year's presidential campaign? Perhaps tired of the tone of politics in general these days? Do you wish for a more civil level of discourse? Well, here are a couple of examples - well, the second one is more odd than anything else - but I've found an example of some of these things, not in some dusty textbook, or secretly taking place in the backrooms of 1970's Washington, but in a time and place perhaps even more chaotic and frequently uncivil as our own - the mid-1960's - and in a place far from the power brokers of the day - Nebraska.

What I'm sharing today is a recording of two local civics programs, produced by a TV station in Lincoln, apparently in 1964 (based on the reference to a recently passed Civil Rights Act and the reference to Monday, July 6th).

The first of these two 15 minute shows has already been on for a minute or two when the recording begins, but the other show is heard in its entirety.

The first show is "Statehouse Report", which is, as the title indicates, about what was going on at the time in State Government, featuring the "Director of State Operations", George Morris. Given the limited services that state governments generally seem to want to fund these days, it's remarkable to hear the litany of services, facilities and other things that the state of Nebraska was providing for its citizens in 1964, and the importance that Mr. Morris attaches to these various things. I can just imagine what a program such as this, featuring an official in the administration of today's seemingly delusional Illinois Governor, might sound like, and it bares no resemblance to what you'll hear here. 

Download: KOLN TV, Lincoln, Nebraska - Statehouse Report

After a few commercials and such, it's time for the national version of the same type of show, "Capitol Report", featuring Senator Carl Curtis. Curtis was a Republican, apparently of a sort we've not seen in very many years, as he spends a bit of his report reviewing the importance of the (very) recently passed Civil Rights Act of 1964. It's not clear to me whether Curtis voted for this bill, but if not, he doesn't dismiss or disparage it, quite unlike what would happen today. The rest of the show has very little to do with the Capitol, or anything else of real significance.

Because he then introduces Mrs. Haysbrook of West Point, Nebraska, head of a woman's club, and the wife of a state senator. Their conversation, which takes up the vast majority of this show, is far less than scintillating - I certainly wouldn't want to return to the days when the media covered how society women ran and belonged to women's club in order to have something meaningful to do (Mrs. Haysbrook thinks she'll have a role in WORLD PEACE, from crying out loud).

But it is interesting to think that, in my lifetime, a U.S. Senator hosted a show of this type, and interviewed a local community member in this way, let alone that he would discuss, without partisan politics or rancor, the most recent (and very controversial) Congressional vote.

Download: KOLN TV, Lincoln, Nebraska - Capitol Report

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Bob, for this window from a (?) Kinder, Gentler Time.

    I'll have to cut it short today, because topics like these really wind me up. And please bear in mind that I'm not trying to offend yourself or any readers here. But I remember the second time Ronald Reagan was running for President, and when I compare and contrast that time to our present situation, it's a world of difference. It seems that every campaign since that one, the one where I was really

    I'd never want to romanticize that past. The Reagan era had it's own share of problems, especially if you were a working-class victim of Reaganomics. Still, the discourse was much more civil. No making faces. Or using social media for cheap shots. Even the lies back then were much more skillful. Ever heard of Fact Checking? This type of behavior is that of a demagogue from some sort of bush league Banana Republic, the kind we used to laugh at. But certainly not the behavior of a potential US President! Now the world's laughing at us :(

    As an aside, there was a Christmas LP floating around just a few months ago called, "Everett McKinley Dirksen At Christmas Time."

    It was a spoken word album by former US Senator Everett Dirksen (1967) and it was also a window to a much different past, like your tape above. When I saw it, and later as I listened, the same thoughts kept repeating in my mind like a loop, "What kind of politician would record something like this today?"

    Would they only make this LP available to their largest campaign boosters? Would it be full of venomous attacks, all the while mouthing piety and holiday cheer?
    Would said politician have to do numerous polling before releasing such a politically tricky message?
    Would various PACs mobilize seemingly overnight to criticise the message, or to question why only a Judeo-Christian POV was reflected?
    If the message was ecumenical, in light of the holiday being shared throughout the globe, would that somehow be criticized?

    Myself, I don't even celebrate the holidays. But just hearing a former US Senator with his non-political message aimed at children, was very touching, on many levels, for yours truly.

    Thanks again for your lovely tapes, Bob!